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Firms advised to inventory giving programs

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Companies that are evaluating or starting to build corporate social responsibility into their work should begin by conducting an inventory of their corporate philanthropy, says a new white paper.

A corporate-philanthropy inventory will give corporate leaders information they need “to determine true costs and make strategic decisions that align with the company’s business objectives, creating a valuable baseline” for developing an effective corporate-social-responsibility program, says the white paper by the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

Many companies are “dabbling heavily” in corporate social responsibility “through a potpourri of often disconnected charitable and community activities” that are spread among various departments, the white paper says.

And those activities — including sponsorships, events, employee matching-gift programs, employee giving, employee volunteer hours, executive giving, product donations, and grants through a corporate foundation – can add up.

Including the “soft” cost of diverting employee time away from the core business to administer the programs, the white paper says, and the expense can be even greater.

The paper says a comprehensive inventory should address all areas of a company’s corporate giving and community activities, including giving practices; internal structures and processes for grantmaking; guidelines for making decisions; methods of measurement; types of giving, including grants, sponsorships, events and scholarships; volunteerism, including executive board service and employee volunteer hours; in-kind contributions; employee giving and matching gifts; corporate giving campaigns; historical giving; systems for tracking donations; and amounts of giving based o9n employee and customer requests versus corporate mission.

Organizing all those activities can create opportunities for companies “to cut costs with little or no negative impact on customer and employee perception,” the paper says.

And it says savvy companies are “preserving the best of their corporate giving and community activities and scrapping the duplicative and less effective elements.”

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